Robert Kolker's latest book, Lost Girls: An Unsolved American Mystery, is an account of the true-life search for a serial killer still at large on Long Island, a tale of unsolved murder and Internet prostitution.
From his Q & A at Randy Dotinga for the Christian Science Monitor:
Q: What about these women drew you into this story?Visit Robert Kolker's website and blog.
A: While they never knew one another, they all came from parts of America that the media tends to overlook.
They're the struggling parts that haven't recovered from the recession, where options are narrowing for young people. No matter how well you did in high school, and some got As, the only options seemed to be Dunkin' Donuts or Walmart.
The Internet and Craigslist provided them with an option that they found irresistible. They decided to take a risk and make more money in a night than their friends could make in a couple weeks in their day jobs. That was the real constant.
Q: What else did they have in common?
A: There were things that one might expect like childhood trauma or addiction or dysfunctional families or poor parenting. But it wasn't consistent.
It was more the promise of social mobility that they shared. They and their families were all in environments where they're trapped. There's no hope of moving up. A chance to make so much money so quickly is a chance to get a leg up.
I wanted to investigate the question of why someone makes a decision to become a prostitute. It's a seismic decision to make. The reasons are not always what the stereotype is.
The other goal is to talk about...[read on]